If you’ve met me about 2 years ago and asked me if I was living an authentic life, I would’ve said yes without thinking. Now, if I want to be really honest with you, I didn’t have any idea what the heck that meant expect the meaning of the word authenticity and the fact that it sounded cool.
Of course, I wanted to be “real”, I wanted to embrace my uniqueness and flaws and mistakes. But this was one of those things which were for me easier said than done. I was confused when someone told me just “be yourself.” My question was “How?”
I think that the idea of being liked or impressing people around us can have many different forms. Some people want to impress with beauty, some with their character, some with their actions. I wanted to impress people with my inner strength.
My thirst for showing the world who I was and then waiting for an approval goes back to my childhood. When I was in my teenage years, my mum was diagnosed with severe depression. As much as she tried to overcome it, it wasn’t easy.
So as a 14-year-old, seeing my mum hitting rock bottom numerous times, I decided to step up and often took care of things on my own. That meant taking care of our household while my mum was fighting this terrible illness in the hospital.
I became what some of us call “tough cookie.” This label meant no emotions, no weakness, no signs of vulnerability, strong attitude 24/7. It was very important for me that people see my so-called strength since deep inside I felt very fragile.
With my new label and tough look on my face, I adopted this huge misconception that vulnerability is weakness and that being strong meant looking strong. The warning signs started to show up. I was getting very emotional, I often cried and I was taking lots of things very personally. I had no confidence no matter how much I tried to pretend that I got it.
My emotional imbalance was driving me insane because I wasn’t sure who I was. Anytime I showed my emotions since I couldn’t hold them anymore, I felt silly in front of others as we all myself.
You may be wondering what the heck this has to do with authenticity. I am getting there, just bear with me.
About a year ago, with all my blogging about emotions and mindset and how-to tips, I felt that something was off. I had the knowledge and experience, but there was something missing. So I took a dangerous step and asked myself the most honest question ever: “Are you walking your talk?”
BOOM. Huge slap in the face. I didn’t. I was bullshitting myself. It pissed me off for two reasons. First, I came to realize that my interpretation of inner strength wrong. Second, I felt that I betrayed anyone who has ever stumbled upon my work and learned from it. I wanted to kick my own ass.
Although I wasn’t lying to anyone, I felt I could’ve tried more. The time of facing the reality came. I began to understand that my unbreakable toughness was the problem. I could only reach true success in what I do if I became totally real and honest no matter how difficult it may be.
Before I continue, I want to make something clear. If you are a tough person or if you came from a difficult environment which kind of shape you being tough, I am not saying that you should throw it away and become someone else. Heck no. All I am saying is that you can fully embrace your toughness and strength only if you are willing to face any emotions and accept them as the part of your life, whether they are powerful or less powerful.
Back to the story…
I didn’t want to admit that I was vulnerable, I didn’t want to admit that I may feel weak sometimes. Therefore, I was living in the fear of facing what’s inside of me since dealing with pain or shame seemed too scary.
The first step of my breakthrough came after I asked myself the above-mentioned question. The second step of my breakthrough was hidden in the work of one of the most amazing and a smart woman I have ever known. Her name is Brene Brown.
You know how it goes. If you look for an answer long enough, eventually it will show up. And it did in the form of her work. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for or how to deal with my emotional imbalance, I just knew that there is something missing and that “something” was in her first book I read. The name of the book is “The Gifts of Imperfection.” What followed were some of the biggest “A-ha” moments ever.
After I read her book and dived into her research on shame and vulnerability, I finally found freedom and peace. It felt like someone came to me and said, “It’s okay to feel, it’s okay to show emotions and experience hurt and actually admit it. That doesn’t make you a weak person.”
After all those years, when I finally admit what’s real in my life and that I am not a robot, I was able to embrace my authenticity and build on it. The whole point of my big awakening happened when I stopped lying to myself. Authenticity itself is about being YOU which means being real. As long as we are pretending, we can’t embrace it fully.
So this is how I took a first step towards being authentic. It was certainly difficult at the beginning because who wants to face their own reality anyway. But honestly, I never felt better and if this is your battle currently, I tell you without hesitation “GO FOR IT.” Stop waiting for an approval, stop being afraid.
Btw, if you have any questions on this topic, leave a comment below. If you feel it is too personal for you to share it publicly, head over to my Contact page and send me a message.